EU’s global deforestation law finds industry favor but smallholder farmers fear trade exclusion
The European Parliament’s decision to adopt a new law to fight global deforestation has been welcomed by major industry players like Nestlé and Barry Callebaut as a positive step toward high-quality, sustainable food systems, but also left smallholder farmers fearing for their livelihoods.
The regulation requires companies to ensure products sold in the EU have not led to deforestation or forest degradation. Suppliers of commodities including cocoa, coffee, palm oil and soya, and products that contain these ingredients like chocolate, must provide a “due diligence” statement confirming that their products have not come from deforested land since 2021.
However, carbon solutions provider ReSeed warns that the new rules requiring farms to be mapped by GPS coordinates will financially burden small-scale cocoa and coffee suppliers and potentially exclude them from international supply chains.
But for smallholder farmers – who are estimated to be responsible for over 75% of the global food supply and crucial to storing legacy carbon through regenerative farming – advanced GPS technology is not practically or economically feasible.
“The majority of these farmers live at, or below, the poverty level and are at risk of being pushed off their land due to this law, despite being the unsung heroes in the fight against the climate crisis,” Vasco van Roosmalen, CEO and co-founder of ReSeed, tells us.
“By recognizing smallholder farmers’ ecosystem services – starting with their carbon stocks – and creating incentives to draw down additional carbon, we can scale action against climate change and provide the necessary product origin data required under these EU regulations,” he suggests.
“Instead of a burden, this ruling should be an opportunity to reward smallholder farmers for their ecosystem services and increase their yields and resilience through inclusion in carbon markets. Payments for ecosystem services can help offset the extra costs required under the new law.”Food Ingredients 1st – April 28, 2023